We lost a friend and neighbor last week. Retired physician Jim Mueller was one of those rare friends you needn’t know long to appreciate. Inquisitive and funny, quiet but outspoken, Jim was opinionated but welcomed opposing ideas. When we congregated on Friday night to celebrate his life, Jim’s family recalled “magical moments” they’d shared around his bedside, laughing and remembering through his final hours, with Jim “quipping jokes to the very end.” If one must go, this seemed the way to do it.
All this was on my mind when I awoke Sunday morning following the memorial. I was scheduled to retrieve Jean from Scottsdale that afternoon, and wondered if Jim’s wife, Linda, might find an aerial jaunt uplifting after all she’d endured, or whether such an offer would be insensitive so soon after her husband’s passing.
Finally I decided that we were close enough friends that the bigger risk would be to not ask. If Linda wasn’t ready to socialize she’d still appreciate my offer, but then again, this might be just the diversion she needed. So a bit apprehensively, I dialed her number. It turned out that most of the family had left, leaving only Linda and her son-in-law’s sister Gianna Sparacino, who was staying a few more days.
“Linda,” I said, “I hope this isn’t inappropriate, but I’m flying to Scottsdale this afternoon to pick up Jean. I realize you might prefer some private time right now, but…”
“Greg, that sounds wonderful! Could Gianna go, too? This is her first visit to Arizona, and what better way to see it than from an airplane!”
Click HERE to read Greg’s entire column, “Celebrating Life.” Mobile device version, HERE.
First appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.
Photo: Jean, Linda, and Gianna pose in late-afternoon sun at Scottsdale Airport before takeoff. See more photos here.
©2012, 2020 Gregory N.Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!